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Quilting Information: Andrea Brokenshire’s “Flora Bota’nica”

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Quilting Information:  April 18, 2014

Flora Bota’nica

 

One of the special exhibits at the MQX show in New Hampshire last week was Andrea Brokenshire’s “Flora Bota’nica.”

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These quilts–and there were at least ten of them and I could have taken a picture of every single one–were spectacular.  I’ve seen a lot of quilts of flowers, but these are extraordinary.

Here’s one:

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Here’s another:

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You can see many more of these amazing quilts if you google “images for Andrea Brokenshire quilts.”

Enjoy!

 

Written by louisaenright

April 26, 2014 at 6:52 pm

Books, Documentaries, Reviews: Michael Pollan: COOKED

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Books, Documentaries, Reviews:  April 26, 2014

COOKED

Michael Pollan

 

Friend Gina Caceci brought me Michael Pollan’s Cooked a bit ago…

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I’m only into the beginning pages, but am looking forward to reading more.

Pollan begins with describing what he calls the “cooking paradox”:

How is it that at the precise historical moment when Americans were abandoning the kitchen, handing over the preparation of most of our meals to the food industry, we began spending so much of our time thinking about food and watching other people cook it on television?  The less cooking were doing in our own lives, it seemed, the more that food and its vicarious preparation transfixed us (3).

Pollan goes on to note that “the amount of time spent preparing meals in American households has fallen by half since the mid-sixties, when I was watching my mom fix dinner, to a scant twenty-seven minutes a day” (3).

TWENTY SEVEN MINUTES A DAY!!

Cooking, Pollan notes, is magic:  “Even the most ordinary dish follows a satisfying arc of transformation, magically becoming something more than the sum of its ordinary parts.  And in almost every dish, you can find, besides the culinary ingredients, the ingredients of a story:  a beginning, a middle, and an end” (4).

And here’s a bit of philosophy that might explain the “cooking paradox”:

So maybe the reason we like to watch cooking on television and read about cooking in books is that there are things about cooking we really miss.  We might not feel we have the time or energy (or the knowledge) to do it ourselves every day, but we’re not prepared to see it disappear from our lives altogether.  If cooking is, as the anthropologists tell us, a defining human activity–the act with which culture begins, according to Claude Lévi-Strauss–then maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that watching its processes unfold would strike deep emotional chords (5).

Other anthropologists “have begun to take quite literally the idea that the invention of cooking might hold the evolutionary key to our humaness” (6).

A few years ago, a Harvard anthropologist and primatologist named Richard Wrangham published a fascinating book called Catching Fire, in which he argued that it was the discovery of cooking by our early ancestors–and not tool making or meat eating or language–that set us apart from the apes and made us human.  According to the “cooking hypothesis,” the advent of cooked food altered the course of human evolution.  By providing our forebears with a more energy-dense and easy-to-digest diet, it allowed our brains to grow bigger (brains being notorious energy guzzlers) and our guts to shrink.  It seems that raw food takes much more time and energy to chew and digest, which is why other primates our size carry around substantially larger digestive tracts and spend many more of their waking hours chewing–as much as six hours a day.

Cooking, in effect, took part of the work of chewing and digestion and performed it for us outside of the body, using outside sources of energy.  Also, since cooking detoxifies many potential sources of food, the new technology cracked open a treasure trove of calories unavailable to other animals.  Freed from the necessity of spending our days gathering large quantities of raw food and then chewing (and chewing) it, humans could now devote their time, and their metabolic resources, to other purposes, like creating a culture (6).

So, “if cooking is as central to human identity, biology, and culture as Wrangham suggests, it stands to reason that the decline of cooking in our time would have serious consequences for modern life, and so it has” (7).

I will leave you with this quote–which contains much “food for thought”:

The shared meal is no small thing.  It is a foundation of family life, the place where our children learn the art of conversation and acquire the habits of civilization:  sharing, listening, taking turns, navigating differences, arguing without offending.  What have been called the “cultural contradictions of capitalism”–its tendency to undermine the stabilizing social forms it depends on–are on vivid display today at the modern American dinner table, along with all the brightly colored packages that the food industry has managed to plant there (8).

 

 

 

 

Written by louisaenright

April 26, 2014 at 6:49 pm

Turkey Tracks: Spring Peepers

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Turkey Tracks:  April 26, 2014

Spring Peepers

 

I’ve been really busy with spring projects and spring clean-up.

So you have not heard from me much this week.

The amazing Stephen Pennoyer has taken on many of the projects neglected for the past five years.  He is a meticulous carpenter and all-around building expert.  And he’s been the most wonderful gift in my life as he has taken on jobs that most people would shudder at doing–things like digging drainage ditches for underground pipes and digging big and deep holes to sink new fence posts in–all into earth covered with gravel and littered with land-fill stones.  Always, he is cheerful–no matter the frustration.  And, always, he figures out a way “to do it right.”  I’m “the helper” and am called on to hold posts steady.  Or, help lift something that needs more than two hands or just a big more carrying poundage.

I’ll start posting pictures as he finishes the many jobs we have underway.

Meanwhile, Melody Pendleton was here painting a big downstairs room.

And Riteway Rugs picked up the big Karastan downstairs.  It’s been over 11 years since it has been cleaned.

Those are only A FEW of the ongoing projects.

Meanwhile, I cleaned out (and repaired rusted out chicken wire) on the chicken coop and cage.  That always a HUGE spring job.

I am thankful that it’s a rainy day.  My body needs a rest…

* * *

The peepers–tiny, tiny frogs–have  had a terrible time this year.

First they emerged out of the icy mud only to have a serious refreeze.  Many of us were afraid they had been killed.

Here are some images:  Peepers image – Google Search.

And here is a video I did the other night so you could see how LOUD they are:

Written by louisaenright

April 26, 2014 at 4:24 pm

Turkey Tracks: Mid April Update

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Turkey Tracks:  April 18, 2014

Mid April Update

 

I’ve had a busy few weeks, and it’s been fun.

First of all, Rosie, my Copper Black Maran has decided to lay her super dark brown eggs again.  Aren’t they pretty?

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Rosie is the last CBM I have.  Remember that we lost her rooster to the fox last spring…

CBMs are not great layers, but they are big, happy hens and very social.

It might be time to think about getting some more from Tom Culpepper in Georgia…

Along with the beef broth–which is on the blog post just before this one–I made a shredded veggie lacto-fermented mixture, as mine is all gone now.  I used cabbage, including a red one which will make the mixture such a lovely red in a few days, garlic, carrots, and a bunch of kale.   Here it is in the bowl, all kneaded until it is juicy and ready to load into jars:

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I have two kinds of jars I like to use–a regular old wide-mouth Mason jar and a fancier Fido jar with a bailer and rubber sealer.  I thought I’d have enough mixture for a half-gallon jar, but no.  Thus the quart jar:

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Here’s a little video of Pumpkin, my rooster, who is amazing with the hens.  You can hear him telling them to “come eat this food,” and if you watch carefully, you’ll see him pick up food and hold it up for them to see that it’s “ok.”

 

 

I make a run up to Belfast to the Belfast Coop every ten days or so.  The Coop carries the dog food I use:  raw ground WHOLE chicken–bones, skin, organs, the works.  The girls THRIVE on this food.  You’d never know to look at them that they are 11 and 12 years old.  Here’s what their good looks like:

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I have an old pair of boots that I bought for $10 at a kind of shoe-thrift store back in Virginia over 15 years ago.  They are my “chicken boots”–and survive ice and mud in rough weather.  I think I’ve gotten and will continue to get my money’s worth.  I’m still using heavy gloves when I go out for chicken duty morning and evening:

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Remember this rug I braided on the fashioned loom?  It’s still going strong…

The wild turkeys have broken up into small bands now.  I have one male who is hanging around with his band–probably because they are still feeding on discarded coop bedding and the odd treats I throw to the chickens.  At night he roosts in one of the pines just beyond the stream.  And he calls to me when I come out to lock up the chickens.

Here’s one video I took of him the other day.  He’s perpetually “puffed up” these days:

And one of him with some of his hens.  His tail is looking a bit ragged.  I heard two males fighting at dusk up on the hill last week–they seemed to be hitting heads/necks/wings.  Hard to tell :

 

Soon the hens will sit on eggs, and I will not see much of them until next winter–except for the odd crossing across a road here and there.

Turkey Tracks: Beef Bone Broth Today

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Turkey Tracks:  April 17, 2014

Beef Bone Broth Today

 

This morning I started a beef bone broth.

A good bone broth is chock full of all sorts of minerals and fats that your body LOVES!

I started with beef bones, celery, onions (skin on if they are clean), carrots.  I cook them at about 400 until they are brown and toasty.  Stir once or twice.

 

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The white circle in the middle of the bone is the marrow–and that’s from where gelatin comes.  Gelatin is, again, chock full of nutrients that are good for you.

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Here’s what the bones look like after cooking:

 

DO NOT DISCARD THIS FAT IT IS REALLY, REALLY GOOD FOR YOU.  Good fat provides a constant, steady source of energy–unlike the energy from sugar which yo-yos you up and down and causes problems with your hormones, like how your insulin reacts.

Put the ENTIRE contents of this pan into a large pot and add water, something acid (a little wine or vinegar helps extract the minerals), and some salt.

Look at the lovely dark color of this broth:

 

I will simmer this broth for 12 to 24 hours.  Add water as needed.  Turn it off when you leave the house or when you go to bed.  It can sit overnight UNCOVERED in its pan overnight.  Just reheat in the morning and start simmering again.

When you’re ready, strain the broth.  I have a big strainer I like to use.  Throw away the bones and spent veggies.  DON’T GIVE COOKED BONES TO DOGS.

Use the broth, or freeze some of it.  Don’t fill a Ball Jar too full or it will split open in the freezer.  Leave plenty of room.

I’m going to make a hearty stew with this batch of broth–leeks, roasted tomato sauce from my stash, mushrooms, lamb stew meat, some dried tomatoes and zucchinis I dehydrated last summer, carrots–and that is as far as I have gotten in thinking about the stew today.

 

 

Written by louisaenright

April 18, 2014 at 12:25 pm

Turkey Tracks: Two Quilts Mailed

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Turkey Tracks:  April 17, 2014

Two Quilts Mailed

 

Long years ago now I made a quilt for a family new baby boy–a quilt with a fish theme–that got lost in the mail.

Meanwhile, that baby now has a sister–and neither are babies any more.

So, this winter I set about making them each a long-overdue quilt–with a “fishy” theme.

These quilts are meant to be used, loved, washed, and used some more.

Here’s the boy’s quilt.  It’s called  “Seahorse Seas.”

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I quilted with Anne Bright’s “Ocean View” which has sea horses, shells, and sand dollars in the pattern.

See?

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Here’s a piece of the focus fabric:

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I mixed in some 9-patch blocks in coordinating fabrics:

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Here’s the front striped border and the binding out of the focus fabric:

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I like the backing rather a lot:

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* * *

The girl’s quilt is from a pattern by Joan Ford in her “Quilt Your Stash!”–a little magazine that I picked up in Portland some years ago.

Joan Ford stopped with the flying geese border–so I added the outer border, and I like it a lot.

This quilt is called “A…’s Pretty Fish”:

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The background is a deep navy blue.

Here’s more of that border–and the pantograph is “Circle of Life,” by Patricia E. Ritter–ordered from the Urban Elementz web site.

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Here are some fish:

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And, more fish:

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And another shot of that terrific flying fish border.  I think that border is what drew me to this quilt the most…

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The backing is a bright red floral…

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It’s always fun to mail off one quilt, let alone TWO!

 

Quilting Information: The Four Seasons Banners From Italy

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Quilting Information:  April 17, 2014

THE FOUR SEASONS BANNERS FROM ITALY

An Exhibition Sponsored by Aurifil Thread, Milan, Italy

The recent Machine Quilters Expo (MQX) show in Manchester, New Hampshire, exhibited 70 quilted banners made by the Casa Patchwork & Quilting group that represented the four seasons.  The banners spread out over 40 feet of exhibit space. Each member was  given a palette to create their own banner–which is why the banners  “hang together” so nicely.

Here is a video that sweeps through the banners so you can see their impact:

Here are some close-ups of “winter.”

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“Spring”:

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“Summer”:

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“Summer” close up:

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“Fall”:

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And “Fall” close up:

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Aren’t they wonderful?

Written by louisaenright

April 17, 2014 at 5:07 pm